Together or Separately On The Road To Happiness

Dorota Myko, Faculty of Electronics and Information Technologies, Warsaw University of Technology (Poland). 

Dorota Myko ( graduated from Warsaw University, Paris-Nord University XIII, and Warsaw School of Economics (SGH). Since 2005 she has worked at Warsaw University of Technology in the Faculty of Electronics and Information Technologies in the Department of Promotion and Information.  

In nature, many organisms, like bears and squirrels, live alone or in herds, like antelopes and many species of birds, or in whole colonies, like bacteria. And Aristotle said that man is a social being. 

But some people treat their solitude as a choice: for example, some artists or sailors, who embark on solo voyages, or people who put their spiritual and religious developments above anything else. They see their values and the meaning of their lives in independent and solitary struggles with life challenges. Loneliness allows them to learn the limits of their abilities, thus enriching their lives.  

In philosophy though dialogues are critical as in the case of Socrates and more modern philosophy of dialogue, also known as the philosophy of encounter. In this philosophy – initiated by Ferdinand Ebner at the beginning of 20c. – the dialogue with another human being is the starting point, the principle of all thinking and cognition, and the subject of philosophical reflection. According to Irvin Yalom, an American psychiatrist and therapist, on the other hand, isolation as one of the existential challenges, as he claims that whole our life we face a conflict – a desire to connect with others, which, however, can never be fully satisfied.  

Christophe André in his book “Imperfect, Free and Happy” offers a different angle: There is no good self-esteem without others. But it is also impossible to have good self-esteem built against others or on the backs of others. So, what is positive independence both professionally and privately? How to build it? But what to do if someone has an avoidant personality or Machiavellian, or is a misanthrope? Should an introvert come out of hiding?  

Psychologists have wondered where the feeling of empathy comes from and why some people are deprived of it. Can empathy be practiced to strengthen oneself? If there is one secret of success, it is the ability to take someone else’s point of view and to look from this perspective as easily as from your own, said Henry Ford, the famous entrepreneur.  

Knowing oneself is more difficult than knowing others. We can say more accurately about the person we observe who they are than when we evaluate ourselves. – as prof. Jan Strelau, the creator of the regulatory theory of temperament, says. It is therefore better to be an introvert or an extrovert? You can work both independently and in a smaller or a larger group. What to choose? Are people living in relationships happier? If so, why? Or maybe positive psychology and working on gratitude is a solution ?